Rip Curl Owl Chapman Single Fin

Greetings, Shredderz! Today we’ve got an unusual stick for you that represents one of my favorite corners of surf history: Australian / Hawaiian mash-ups. Last week’s Social Media Roundup featured MR and his collaborations with Ben Aipa on the latter’s famous sting. MR also recently posted an awesome photo of some boards he had worked on with Dick Brewer. Today’s post features a rad Owl Chapman single fin shaped under Rip Curl, the legendary Australian brand best known for its wetsuits. The photos of the board come courtesy of a reader who goes by Red Robo; give him a follow on Instagram if you’re into more pics of sweet Aussie sticks.

I’ve been told the photo above shows Owl shaping some boards during a 1977 visit to Torquay. I spent an appalling amount of time going through the Australian National Surfing Museum’s Facebook page to try and find the original version of the photo, but didn’t have any luck. Nonetheless, it’s clear that Chapman not only visited Australia multiple times, but also shaped boards during this time. Surf Research notes that Chapman shaped boards for Goodtime Surfboards during pit stops in the Seventies. The Vintage Surfboard Collectors group on Facebook has a couple of cool examples of Goodtime boards shaped by Owl. Here’s a ridiculous Goodtime / Owl board with a Shane Egan airbrush, which I posted about on Instagram below; and here’s another insane example of a Goodtime / Owl stick.

And if you still haven’t had your fill of Owl’s Australian collaborations, the cool folks at Von Weirdos sold a sweet single fin that Chapman shaped under Terry Fitzgerald’s Hot Buttered label.

The Owl Chapman board you see here is 6’6″ x 20″ x 2 3/4″. The board’s owner estimates the board was likely shaped in 1977. I also understand this board was a little shorter than what Chapman was usually shaping at the time, but it was crafted for smaller Bells Beach and other nearby Victoria breaks.

There are numerous references to Owl Chapman and Michael Peterson taking a road trip down to Bells Beach in 1977 after MP won the Stubbies contest. Cheyne Horan mentioned the trip in a recent Tracks writeup. A commenter in the Vintage Surfboard Collectors group referred to the trip as the “Fear and Loathing trip”, and given Chapman and Peterson’s reputations, it’s likely this is a tame description of what actually transpired. Apparently MP and Chapman concluded the road trip in Torquay, where they both shaped boards at the Rip Curl factory. I can’t say whether the board featured here in the post is one of them, but it’s definitely a cool story involving two of surfing’s all-time great characters.

It’s interesting to note the board has both a Rip Curl laminate on the bottom, as well as the classic Owl Chapman Underground logo on the deck. For my money, the Owl Chapman Underground laminate is one of the classics. You can see the board has also been clearly signed on the stringer.

I was able to find exactly two other Owl Chapman Underground Rip Curl surfboards. One is a wing pin on the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Facebook group; the other was featured on Facebook Marketplace. I have reproduced the photos of the Marketplace board above. It looks like someone might have made off like a bandit with that one; as far as I can tell the board was listed for a mere $100 on Facebook somewhere in Australia.

Thanks again to Red for sharing pictures of this awesome Rip Curl / Owl Chapman single fin!

Photo at the top of the page by Peter Crawford and found on Cargo Collective.

Larry Bertlemann for Rip Curl: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! I’m hoping maybe some of you caught my Sagas of Shred retrospective on Instagram today. And if you didn’t, don’t worry, because you’re here for the main event. Every week I post a scan of a vintage surf ad, plucked from my stash of vintage Surfer Magazines. Rip Curl has been a fixture of the Sagas of Shred series, thanks more to its roster of team riders over the years, than say the creative brilliance of Gotcha’s ad campaigns. Case in point: last week I wrote up a Rip Curl ad featuring Derek Hynd.

This time around there’s another ad from the venerable Victoria wetsuit brand, but featuring Larry “The Rubberman” Bertlemann. Before I flipped open a magazine just a few minutes ago, I didn’t even know that Bertlemann had ever ridden for Rip Curl. And a very quick and incomplete Google Image search didn’t turn up with any other good photos of Bertlemann rocking any Rip Curl gear, either.

But hey, the Rubberman can be seen not-so-subtly pointing to the Rip Curl logo in the ad you see above, so that should settle it. This ad ran in the May 1980 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 21, No 6).

And given that this is a blog about vintage surfboards, you know I’m going to have to geek out on the surfboard. If you look closely, you can see some Byrne logos towards the tail of Larry’s stick. Byrne Surfboards was founded in the Seventies by Australian brothers Phil and Chris. According to the Byrne website, during the Seventies the Byrne brothers were frequent visitors to Hawaii. During this time they struck up working relationships with both Shaun Tomson and Larry Bertlemann. Later on, Phil Byrne would gain even more attention for his collaborations with Tom Carroll.

This Rip Curl ad features the only example I have seen of a Byrne surfboard shaped for Larry Bertlemann. I can only guess that these are quite rare.

Thanks for reading and we’ll be back in a week with more Sagas of Shred!

Derek Hynd for Rip Curl: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! It’s late and I gotta be up early tomorrow so I’ll make this one brief. Pictured above is a Rip Curl ad that appeared in the January 1981 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 22, No 1), featuring none other than Derek Hynd. It’s funny to see Hynd in an ad for a big surf brand, considering that his elusiveness has now become central to his reputation. Nonetheless, I can’t argue with any advertisement that features a surfer of Hynd’s stature getting slotted on a flawless wave.

Thanks for reading and tune in next Thursday night for another vintage surf ad as part of the Sagas of Shred series.

Cruisin’: Nat Young for Rip Curl

Greetings, Shredderz! Apologies for the relatively sparse posting schedule this week. That said, they say it’s all about quality, and not quantity, and I can’t think of many things better than this 1981 Rip Curl ad featuring the great Nat Young. I absolutely love the surfboard Nat’s got tucked under his arm. If you look closely you can see the clean and simple “Nat Young Surf Design” text in black.

Nat Young Surfboards
An enviable lineup of Nat Young Surfboards 70s single fins. Photo is via the Vintage Surfboard Collectors group on Facebook

I don’t really see a ton of Nat Young Surf Design boards. I imagine that’s due to the fact I live in California. The photo above is courtesy of the Vintage Surfboard Collectors group on Facebook, which I would say leans towards Aussie shapers and labels.

If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, it shouldn’t surprise you that the great surfresearch.com.au has extensive information on the Nat Young Surf Design label. Check out the entry on Nat Young here, which also has links at the bottom for a variety of different Nat Young shapes. I’ve written before about the fascinating intersection of Australian and Hawaiian surfboard design influences, such as this Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt shape, and it remains one of my favorite topics in surf history. According to Surf Research’s wonderful site, Nat Young drew inspiration from Hawaiians like Harold “Iggy” Ige and Joey Cabell for his equipment, especially during the Transition Era. I wish the Rip Curl ad at the top of the page showed more of the board itself, but alas, we only get a glimpse of the outline.

The Nat Young Rip Curl ad you see here originally ran in in the July 1981 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 22, No 7). I’m guessing the photo was likely taken sometime in 1980. Surf Research details a couple of 1981 Nat Young Surf Design sticks with early thruster setups. Given all these timelines, I wonder if the Nat Young Surf Design board in the Rip Curl ad was shaped towards the end of Young’s single fin phase, right as the rest of the surf world began to embrace Simon Anderson’s thruster invention.

Thanks for checking out the blog and check in next Thursday evening for more vintage surf ads, as part of Sagas of Shred!

 

 

 

Tom Curren and Brad Gerlach for Rip Curl: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! It’s Thursday evening, and I come bearing gifts. For those of you who have never read the blog before, welcome to Sagas of Shred. It’s a weekly series, published Thursday evenings (California time), where I scan a different vintage surf ad for every entry. Tonight we have some pretty familiar territory: a Rip Curl wetsuits ad from the Eighties featuring Tom Curren and Brad Gerlach. (Here’s an earlier Sagas of Shred entry that has a Rip Curl ad with Tom as a goofy foot; and here’s a shot of Gerr modeling a very similar wetsuit to the one in this post.)

I love that the ad features two style masters doing similar turns, but enough variation to allow for some contrast of their respective styles. Gerr’s wetsuit, of course, is either an eyesore or the coolest thing you’ve seen, depending on your perspective. I think it goes without saying that I’m in the latter camp. This Rip Curl ad originally ran in the March 1987 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 28, No 3). The photo of Tom Curren was taken by Jeff Hornbaker, and the photo of Gerlach was taken by Sonny Miller (RIP).

As always, thanks for checking out the blog and visit again next Thursday for another peek into some surf ads from an earlier time.

Wayne Lynch Rip Curl Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Look, I know we’re all thinking it, so I’ll just come out and say it: I think I may have been a little tough on Rip Curl in last week’s Sagas of Shred entry. Did the Aussie surf brand misspell the name of a certified surf legend? Yeah, there’s no way around that one. And did Rip Curl also take perhaps the most stylish regular foot of all time and try and pass him off as a goofy? Sadly, that one is also pretty cut and dried. But enough about Rip Curl’s missteps. Let’s focus on the positive, shall we? For all the fine folks that have surfed under Rip Curl’s banner, even the biggest Mick Fanning fan would agree that there was something special about Wayne Lynch’s stint as a team rider. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this union than by running this scan of a Wayne Lynch Rip Curl ad from 1983.

Wayne Lynch Rip Curl Victoria Art Brewer via Encyclopedia of Surfing.jpg
Wayne Lynch overlooking a remote Victoria spot. Check out that racy little Rip Curl branded single fin he’s got under his arm. It looks like a sting, and the fin placement is similar to what you would see from Buttons’ old boards. Photo by Art Brewer and via the peerless Encyclopedia of Surfing.

First, both Wayne Lynch and Rip Curl are native to Victoria, Australia. While best known as the home of Bells Beach, Victoria also has a reputation as a cold water paradise with a variety of mysto spots tucked away along its coastline. Likewise, for all of Wayne Lynch’s competitive success during pro surfing’s earliest days, his reputation is who preferred surfing in solitude in his home state over surfing’s rat race.

The Encyclopedia of Surfing points out that for all of Lynch’s suspicions about surfing’s commercialization, it was the surf media and surfwear companies — namely, Rip Curl — that made him famous, and presumably helped finance his solo excursions up and down the Victoria coast. But when I see the Wayne Lynch Rip Curl ad above, I can’t help but think Rip Curl found the perfect embodiment of their brand.

Maybe there’s something cynical — even hypocritical, if you want to be harsh — about monetizing the image of a so-called soul surfer. But I have no such objections. I figure if you’re in the wetsuit business, what better way to move product than by enlisting the man who personifies a unique brand of cold water wanderlust? (Side note: I can’t help but think that O’Neill is blowing it by not doing something similar with Timmy Reyes.) I love the Wayne Lynch Rip Curl ad featured here because it says something about Lynch and his surfing, and it speaks to the sense of adventure that has so much to do with surfing’s appeal.

As always, thanks for checking out this installment of Sagas of Shred, and check back in next Thursday night for more. And if you’ve made it this far, please do check out this post I wrote on Wayne Lynch’s early surfboards, which remains one of my all-time favorite posts I have written on this humble little blog.

Rip Curl Tom Curren: Sagas of Shred

First of all, Shredderz, I’d like to offer a sincere apology. I know that many of you — perhaps even more than ten! — come to this blog on Thursday nights for a lighthearted look at vintage surf advertisements as part of the Sagas of Shred series. And while we have a fresh ad to share, I’m afraid this is a very serious matter. Look closely at the Rip Curl Tom Curren ad above.

Sharp eyed readers might notice that Rip Curl have misspelled Tom Curren’s name. I can’t say I’m thrilled about that — I mean, it’s not like Curren is the greatest surfer in California history, the state that helped shape surf culture as we know it — but whatever, it’s just a single letter.

No, the line in the sand is the fact that the Rip Curl ad pictured above depicts Tom Curren as a goofy foot.

I’m sorry. But I find this extremely offensive.

Really, Rip Curl? Did Curren spend his formative years dissecting Rincon on his backhand, like an earlier version of Bobby Martinez? Had I misremembered Curren’s indelible cutback at perfect Backdoor on a logo-less board all this time?

I can’t even focus on the hilarious copy — the earnest, corny “Rip Curl Does it Vest!” tagline, or the fact the product was actually named Aggrolite — or even the presence of a young Danny Kwock, alongside East Coast legend Wes Laine. I was, however, able to put my indignation aside long enough to note that Laine is toting a sweet-looking Canyon thruster, which was likely shaped by Rusty Preisendorfer.

Surfer Magazine Cover August 1983 Vol 24 No 8.jpg
Cover for the magazine in which the Rip Curl Tom Curren ad originally ran. Photo via Surfer Magazine

The ironic thing is the cover of the magazine in which the ad originally rad — August 1983, Vol 24 No 8 — features Curren, too!

The only acceptable explanation here is that Curren simply surfed this wave switch and Rip Curl neglected to mention it. Otherwise, I’m afraid that running a wetsuit ad with Curren as a goofy foot is like marketing “Terminator 2” as a romantic comedy. I like to think of myself as a pretty laid-back guy, but a good thirty five years after this ad originally ran in Surfer Magazine, I’m now considering a full-blown boycott to express my outrage over this Rip Curl Tom Curren ad.

As always, please visit us again next Thursday night, where we will have another vintage surf advertisement. Hopefully next week’s entry in Sagas of Shred manages to do justice to one of the greatest surfers of all time.

 

Brad Gerlach for Rip Curl: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Some exciting developments are afoot here at the world’s lowest budget vintage surfboard blog: I finally ponied up for a scanner, which means fresh material for Sagas of Shred, the weekly series featuring a vintage surf ad every Thursday evening. First up is technically only half of a Rip Curl ad from the January 1988 issue of Surfer Mag (Vol. 29, No. 1), featuring Brad Gerlach and co-starring his truly flawless head of lettuce. Between the volume, the sun bleach, and the styling, it’s a real murderer’s row.

Sagas of Shred often ends up as the expression of my fascination with Eighties surf culture, which lies somewhere between nostalgia tinged affection and outright amusement at the things that haven’t aged as well. But this Rip Curl suit still looks dope today, a good thirty plus years after the ad originally ran. That color scheme is awesome, and I love all the details in the suit, whether it’s the uneven line of the top, or the futuristic knee pads. Vader is a pretty badass name for a wetsuit line, copyright infringement and all. The rainbow hued Rip Curl logo clearly hails from earlier times, but I would argue it has aged handsomely. It’s also worth noting that Gerr seems to be drinking from the fountain of youth himself, given that he’s in his early fifties and still absolutely rips.

The funny part is the second half of this Rip Curl ad actually features Tom Curren doing a nice off the top on a vintage Channel Islands Al Merrick board. I’ll scan it at some point and probably share it on Instagram, but what can I say? I actually found Gerr and the wetsuit more interesting, somehow.

Thanks for checking out the latest installment of Sagas of Shred, and don’t forget to pop back in next week for even more vintage surf advertisements and other assorted goodness.

Rip Curl Freelite Ad Featuring Rabbit Bartholomew: Sagas of Shred

Please excuse the technical difficulties! Shred Sledz has been having a few problems with some missing posts. We hope to have the problem fixed ASAP. In the meantime, enjoy this vintage Rip Curl ad from the Eighties featuring none other than Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, laying it on a rail. As always, swing by on Thursday evenings for more Sagas of Shred, where we run a vintage surf advertisement every single week on the dot.